Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Daniel Heffner
Lynchburg, VA- Thousands are still struggling without power in this sweltering heat, but many are finding relief at local cooling shelters. Volunteers are helping to bring in ice, water, food, but most of all - comfort.
At Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Sunday night they had about 370 people sleeping there. They plan to keep letting people come in as long as there is a need.
Many at the cooling center say they were roughing it in the blistering heat before finding shelter at Thomas Road Baptist Church.
"We really just had to get out of the house. I got so dehydrated from the heat and everything, "said Christian Rutherford, a Lynchburg resident staying at the cooling center.
TRBC has now become a saving grace for many like Christian Rutherford. At every corner, there were mothers finding a cool spot for their little ones, kids finding fun and new friend. Everyone seemed to be thankful for a place to survive the heat.
"I am so blessed to have a cool place to be so many people take the coolness and the necessities of life for granted," Sylvia Spencer, a resident from Amherst County staying at TRBC.
TRBC has room for about 1,200 to 1,500 people.
"Anything you need ice water, Gatorade, lodging, we're here until the last person gets their power back on," said Pastor Jonathan Falwell of TRBC.
The church is giving three free meals and even shelter to your furry friends, a relief to many pet owners.
"It's fine every now and the dogs get a little stirred up from some people. We just have to shut them up real quick," said Rutherford.
TRBC is also working with the City of Lynchburg to help people with medical needs. They have set up a medical area.
"We're going to have doctors, nurses here 24/7, IV's, oxygen. We'll be able to take people in from nursing homes, even from the hospital that are ready to be discharged, but have nowhere to go because their power is off," said Pastor Falwell.
City officials say anyone with a health condition should go to TRBC. They have a medical area there. The city is opening Sandusky Middle School as another cooling center. That will be open 24 hours now as well as TRBC.
If you plan to head to a cooling center, bring your pillow and sleep bag. If you plan to bring a pet, be sure to bring vaccination records and documentation.